The ‘Ask the Farmer’ series runs this Winter and Spring where a number of our amazing Ambassadors will be on-line to tell us a little more about their farm and farming system and to answer your questions about farming for nature. Starting with Norman Dunne on the 16th November at 8pm
Norman Dunne along with his father Michael Dunne, run a 400-acre tillage farm outside Maynooth, Co. Kildare. The land has been under intensive tillage production for years. About four years ago Norman and his father decided it was time to move away from conventional, intensive tillage and implement a regenerative farming system operating under the principles of conservation agriculture. Cereals grown on the farm include beans, oats, barley and wheat for the animal feed market. Norman also produces hay for the equine market. Participants of the Danú EIP Project and members of BASE Ireland, the focus has been on regenerating soil biology and reducing external inputs where possible on the farm. Cereal crops are grown on the land using minimal disturbance methods like direct drilling and/or min-till. Crop rotations and permanent organic soil cover systems are in place. Additionally, multi-species cover crops are used to build soil fertility and enhance soil structure, all the while providing a food source for pollinating insects. Norman is also experimenting with Biodynamic preparations and Korean Natural Farming methods to enhance the soil biology and to inoculate seeds before sowing. Since the reintroduction of regenerative farming methods on the land, there has been a significant increase in biodiversity and a return of numerous bird species to the farm – “Biodiversity has exploded on the land here in the past 3 or 4 years”. Norman and Michael have enjoyed seeing the return of barn owls, skylarks, sparrowhawks, kestrels, buzzards, woodpeckers, wood pigeons, lapwings, yellowhammers and more.